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Islamic Culture and Art


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Title: Islamic Culture and Art

Islamic Culture and Art
Major Religions of the World (mid-2003 est.)
Source Encyclopædia Britannica Book of the Year
Muslim Population (mid-2003 est.)
  • India/Pakistan/Bangladesh 250-300 Million
  • Africa 200 Million
  • Arab countries 180 Million
  • Southeast Asia 170 Million
  • Iran 50 Million
  • Central Asia 50 Million
  • China 50 Million
  • Europe 20 Million
  • North America 6 Million
  • South America 3 Million
  • Australia 1 Million
  • Worldwide over 1 Billion

World Muslim Population 2009
Islamic Values
  • Monotheism and commitment to one God
  • Education and Literacy
  • Modesty and Chastity
  • Honesty, Trustworthiness, Humility
  • Family as a basic unit of society
  • Consultation and Consensus
  • Purity of intent and action

Basic Tenets of Islamic Faith
  • Muslims believe in One Unique, Incomparable God
    in the Angels created by Him in the prophets
    through whom His revelations were brought to
    mankind in the Day of Judgement and individual
    accountability for actions in God's complete
    authority over human destiny and in life after
  • God's final message to man was revealed to the
    Prophet Muhammad through Gabriel.
  • Islam means 'submission', and derives from a
    word meaning 'peace'. In a religious context it
    means complete submission to the will of God.
  • Allah is the Arabic name for God.
  • Muslims believe that the present life is only a
    trial for the next realm of existence. Basic
    articles of faith include the Day of Judgement,
    resurrection, Heaven and Hell.

Other Sacred Texts
  • The Sunnah, the practice and example of the
    Prophet, is the second authority for Muslims.
    Belief in the Sunnah is part of the Islamic
  • A Hadith is a reliably transmitted report of what
    the Prophet said, did, or approved.

Revealed Prophets
  • Adam
  • Noah
  • Abraham
  • Isaac
  • Ishmael
  • Moses
  • David
  • Solomon
  • Zacharias
  • Elisha
  • Elias
  • John the Baptist
  • Jesus
  • Mohammed

Mohammed570-632 ad
  • 570 born in Mecca after the death of his father
  • Orphaned at 8, he came under the care of the
    clan chief
  • ca. 595 Married Kadijah, a wealthy widow and
    his business partner, who bore him 6 children
  • ca. 610 A contemplative, he received a vision
    from the angel Gabriel, telling him You are the
    Messenger of God
  • Revelations continued throughout his life,
    recorded as the SURAS of the Quran
  • ca. 613 began to preach to friends and
  • Opposition in Mecca from powerful mercantile

Hegira Emigration
  • 622 Fear of persecution from Meccans led
    Muhammed and his followers to emigrate to Medina
    -- the beginning of Islamic history and the
    Islamic calendar
  • Break with Jewish tradition -- prayers oriented
    toward Mecca rather than Jerusalem
  • 627 Muslims defeated Meccan attack on Medina
  • 630 Triumphant entry into Mecca with most
    citizens converting to Islam
  • Alliances with nomadic Arabian tribes
    strengthened by Christian defeat of Persians in
  • 632Died in Medina with no designated heir

The 'Five Pillars' of Islam
  • Faith or belief in the Oneness of God and the
    finality of the prophethood of Muhammad
  • Establishment of the daily prayers
  • Concern for and almsgiving to the needy
  • Self-purification through fasting
  • The pilgrimage to Mecca for those who are able

Iman or Faith
"There is none worthy of worship except God and
Muhammad is the messenger of God." This
declaration of faith is called the shahadah, a
formula that all the faithful pronounce.
Salah or Prayer
  • Worship 5 times a day
  • pre-dawn
  • noon
  • mid-afternoon
  • after sunset
  • night
  • Qibla (Facing Mecca)
  • Adhan (Call to prayers)

Zakat or Charity
  • All things belong to God and that wealth is
    therefore held by human beings in trust.
  • The word zakat means both 'purification' and
  • Muslims calculate their own zakat. For most
    purposes this involves the payment each year of 2
    1/2 of one's capital.
  • The Prophet said 'even meeting your brother with
    a cheerful face is charity'.

Sawm or Fasting
  • Muslims fast during the month of Ramadan
  • Cannot eat from sunrise to sunset
  • Muslims believe that fasting helps them to
  • build will-power
  • feel compassion
  • purify body
  • strengthen their community relations

Hajj or Pilgrimage
  • The annual pilgrimage to Mecca-the Hajj-is an
    obligation only for those who are physically and
    financially able to perform it.
  • About two million people go to Mecca providing an
    opportunity for those of different nations to
    meet one another.
  • Pilgrims wear special clothes simple garments
    which strip away distinctions of class and
    culture, so that all stand equal before God.

The Kaabah The place of worship which God
commanded Abraham and Ishmael to build over four
thousand years ago. The building was constructed
of stone on is believed to be the original site
of a sanctuary established by Adam. God ordered
Abraham to summon all mankind to visit this place.
Shari'ah Islamic Law
  • Systematized during first two centuries of Islam
    (8th-9th c.)
  • Regulates mans relationships both with
    neighbors and the state and with God and his own
  • Includes both ritual practices and ethical
  • Considered the expression of divine will, thus
    has become rigid and static, posing fundamental
    problems for social advancement in contemporary

The Spread of Islam
  • The simplicity of its doctrine - Islam calls for
    faith in only one God worthy of worship.
  • Emphasis on education. Within a few years, great
    civilizations and universities were flourishing,
    for according to the Prophet, "seeking knowledge
    is an obligation for every Muslim.
  • Clear code of conduct Shariah

Islamic Learning
  • The synthesis of Eastern and Western ideas and
    of new thought with old, brought about great
    advances in medicine, mathematics, physics,
    astronomy, geography, architecture, art,
    literature, and history.
  • Many systems such as algebra, the Arabic
    numerals, and also the concept of the zero vital
    to the advancement of mathematics, were
    transmitted to medieval Europe from Islam.
  • Sophisticated instruments which were to make
    possible the European voyages of discovery were
    developed, including the astrolabe, the quadrant
    and good navigational maps.

Islamic Influences
  • Astronomy
  • discovered stars Algol Deneb, Betelgeuse,
    Rigel, Aldebaran
  • compiled astronomical tables and almanacs
  • established observatories
  • translated Ptolemys Almagest
  • Mathematics
  • Arabic numerals
  • Zero
  • Algebra, algorithm
  • Inventions
  • quadrant and astrolabe
  • Medicine
  • first hospital Baghdad 706
  • AP surgery
  • emphasized empirical observation
  • hygiene and pharmacology
  • Universities
  • Al-Zaytunah, Tunis 732
  • Al-Azhar, Cairo 988
  • Muslim Spain Granada, Seville, and Cordoba,
    9th c.
  • Literature
  • Religious Toleration

Medieval Islamic Scientists
  • Al-Khawarizmi (Algorizm)mathematician/
  • 770-840
  • Jaber Ibn Haiyan (Geber)alchemist/metallurgist
  • died 803
  • Ibn Sina (Avicenna)physician/philosopher
  • 981-1037
  • Ar-Razi (Rhazes)
  • physician/ philosopher
  • 864-930
  • Abu Al-Qasim Al-Zahravi (Albucasis)surgeon/author
  • Ibn Rushd (Averroes)physician/philosopher1128-11
  • Ibn al-Nafismedical researcher (first discovered
    the circulatory system) , novelist (first science
    fiction novel)c. 1210-1288

By 1100 There existed in Cordoba alone, 200,000
houses, 600 mosques, 900 public baths, 10,000
lamps, 50 hospitals, lighted and paved streets.
There were bookshops and more than 70 libraries
with over 400,000 books.
Islamic Toleration
  • The Qur'an saysGod forbids you not, with regards
    to those who fight you not for (your) faith nor
    drive you out of your homes, from dealing kindly
    and justly with them for God loveth those who
    are just. (Qur'an, 608)
  • It is one function of Islamic law to protect the
    privileged status of minorities, and this is why
    non-Muslim places of worship have flourished all
    over the Islamic world.
  • History provides many examples of Muslim
    tolerance towards other faiths. Islamic law also
    permits non-Muslim minorities to set up their own
    courts, which implement family laws drawn up by
    the minorities themselves.

Islamic Toleration
  • Freedom of conscience is laid down by the Qur'an
    itself 'There is no compulsion in religion'.
  • The life and property of all citizens in an
    Islamic state are considered sacred whether a
    person is Muslim or not. Racism is
    incomprehensible to Muslims, for the Qur'an
    speaks of human equality.

Branches of Islam
  • Sunni
  • Mainstream and Traditionalist
  • Recognize first 4 caliphs as Mohammeds
  • Believe the theocratic state built by Muhammad
    to be an earthly, temporal dominion and . the
    leadership of Islam as being determined not by
    divine order or inspiration but by the prevailing
    political realities of the Muslim world
  • Emphasis on consensus of community
  • The Wahhabis of Saudi Arabia are Sunnis and are
    considered strict in their enforcement of rules
    regarding dress and abstinence from liquor

Branches of Islam
  • Shia
  • Began as political faction supporting the power
    of Ali, who was a son-in-law of Muhammad and the
    fourth caliph of the Muslim community.
  • Gradually developed a religious movement that
    asserted the legitimate authority of Ali's lineal
    descendants, the Alids.
  • In the late 20th century, notably in Iran, the
    Shi'ites became the chief voice of militant
    Islamic fundamentalism.

Branches of Islam
  • Sufiism
  • Mystic belief and practice in which Muslims seek
    to find divine love and knowledge through direct
    personal experience of God
  • Asserted a way (tariqah, "path") and a goal
    (haqiqah, "reality") alternative to those of the
    Shari'ah, or traditional law
  • The flowering of Sufi literature, especially
    mystical love poetry, represents a golden age
    among the Arabic, Persian, Turkish, and Urdu
    languages. And it was
  • Sufi missionaries spread Islam into India,
    Central Asia, Turkey, and sub-Saharan Africa.

Islamic Art
  • Calligraphy
  • Rugs
  • Literature
  • Music
  • Miniatures
  • Architecture

Arabesque and Geometrical Design
  • Arabesque a style of decoration characterized
    by intertwining plants and abstract curvilinear
    motifs. As adapted by Muslim artisans about AD
    1000, it became highly formalized for religious
    reasons, no birds, beasts, or human figures were
    included. The arabesque became an essential part
    of the decorative tradition of Islamic cultures.
  • Geometric Designs Intricate patterns
    emphasizing symmetry and repeated rhythms

  • While many religions have made use of figural
    images to convey their core convictions, Islam
    has instead used the shapes and sizes of words or
  • Because Islamic leaders saw in figural arts a
    possible implication of idolatry, Islam's early
    theocracy looked to the artistry of calligraphy
    for religious expression.
  • In Islamic and Arabic cultures, calligraphy
    became highly respected as an art -- the art of

Literature Poetry
  • Arabic and Persian poetry
  • qasidah formalized ode visit to abandoned
    encampment, journey to find ones love, eulogy to
    neighbor or tribe
  • historical narrative Firdawsis Shahnamah
  • rubai lyrical quatrains
  • ghazal short Arabic love lyric of 5-15 couplets
  • Arabic Andalusian poetry Islamic Spain
  • muwashshah mixes Arabic and Spanish idioms
  • lyric simplicity, dense metaphors, love of
  • courtship poetry highly influential on
    development of Western Courtly Love poetry
  • Poemas Arabigoandaluces

Literature ProseA Thousand and One Nights
  • Linked stories with frame tale
  • Origins in Indian, Persian, and Arabic tales
  • Blending of the marvelous with common, everyday
  • Emphasizes the healing power of storytelling
  • Collections of Eastern stories influenced the
    development of the novella and the short tale in
    Western European literature

Oriental Carpets
  • The name 'Oriental carpets' usually refers to all
    hand-knotted carpets
  • The variety of the producing areas and
    techniques, styles, and materials used
    necessitate a detailed classification.
  • As a rule, Oriental carpets are divided into four
    main groups
  • Caucasian
  • Central Asia or Turkestan
  • Persian and
  • Turkish or Anatolian.
  • In the second half of the 20th century an
    important production of the hand-knotted rugs has
    developed rapidly in Europe, North Africa, and
    the United States of America.

Miniatures Persia
  • The Moslem sages and Sufis interpreted the
    symbols, myths and legends of ancient Persia in
    the light of Islamic mysticism.
  • The development and use of images in religious
    buildings was mostly due to Persian nationalism,
    the mystical approach of the artists and
    interpretation of the image by Sufis.
  • Unlike Moslem jurists (fuqaha), Sufis were not
    against the image, but rather they gave it a
    spiritual and mystical significance. They believe
    that the beautiful forms and images we see in
    this world have spirit and Divine quality.
  • Mongol invasion of 13th c. brought Chinese
    influences into Persian painting

Miniature from a manuscript of the Shah Nameh of
Ferdowsi. Persian (Tabriz), about 1340
Miniatures Ottoman Empire
  • Zubdat-al Tawarikh a 16th c. history of the
    world by Seyyid Loqman Ashuri
  • MS illuminations

Adam and Eve with their children
Miniatures Moghul Empire in India
  • The Moghul Emperors brought with them Persian
    artists to India.
  • The events in the lives of the Emperors, hunting
    scenes, fighting scenes between animals, hills
    and trees are illustrated in Moghul paintings.

The Portrait of a Prince, 17th c.
  • Mosque, Madrasah, Palace, Fort, House
  • No evidence that early Muslim artists ever
    thought of their work as Islamic.
  • No dominant style or influence that defines
    Islamic art.
  • Definite regional variations.
  • The most striking feature is the focus on
    interior space as opposed to the outside or
    façade architecture that must be experienced by
    being entered and seen from within..
  • Enclosed space, defined by walls, arcades and
    vaults, is the most important element With the
    exception of the dome and the entrance portal,
    decoration in Islamic architecture is reserved
    for the interior.
  • Feeling of weightlessness -- metaphysical space
    -- enhanced by the presence of water fountains,
    pools, etc -- a Paradise on earth

The Blue MosqueIstanbul, Turkey
The Taj MahalAgra, India
Islamic Culture and Artweb links
  • http//
  • The Different Aspects of Islamic Culture
    encyclopedic project by Unesco
  • The
  • Sufiism Sufis --Sufi orders
  • Islamic art and Miniature Painting